Aug. 2, 2008
A group of liberal Congressmen, joined by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), are looking for cosponsors for H.R. 6680, a bill to increase federal funding for controversial needle exchange programs. They make a rather questionable claim in their “Dear Colleague”:
“With approximately 12,000 Americans contracting HIV/AIDS directly or indirectly each year from the sharing of contaminated syringes, it is critical that we make federal dollars available to programs that effectively reduce the number of contaminated syringes on our streets.”While most of my experience with needle exchange program is more anecdotal from my time in Washington, DC (which has allowed for private funding for years and just recently allowed for taxpayer funded needle exchanges), it has not been pleasant. The areas where the needle distribution trucks would gather generally became high crime areas and also drew in a lot of drug dealers knowing they had a gathered customer base. Scientific evidence about the efficacy of needle exchange programs has been imprecise. The truth is giving needles to illegal drug users is like giving matches and gasoline to a pyromaniac. Instead of reducing cases of HIV/AIDS many cities that have needle exchange programs find higher rates among drug users.
Since the program started in 1988, HIV prevalence among intravenous drug users has gone from 1% to 2% to 23%, and deaths from drug overdoses have increased fivefold, giving Vancouver the highest heroin death rate in the United States and Canada.
In a Montreal study, 39% of those who participated in its needle-exchange reported sharing dirty needles, compared to 38% of nonparticipants.”
The city of Baltimore has had a taxpayer funded needle exchange for over a decade. A recent report from the Baltimore City Commission on HIV and AIDS has found that Baltimore now ranks second among cities in the nation for HIV/AIDS cases. The study also showed that AIDS cases are most prevalent in areas with high drug abuse and among injection drug users.
Congress’ newest effort would result in facilitating an extermination program of the addicted - I’m sure that is not their intention, however that would clearly be the result.